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Senior Bush administration officials are in Israel to discuss countering Iran’s nuclear program.

Nicholas Burns, Washington’s point man in efforts to contain Iran through economic sanctions, came to Israel on Thursday for routine strategic talks. Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was accompanied by top U.S. Treasury officials.

The Americans were scheduled to meet Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Jerusalem’s representative in the strategic dialogue, as well as several other senior officials from the Olmert government.

Israel has endorsed a U.S.-led campaign to step up U.N. Security Council sanctions against Tehran unless it abandons its atomic agenda, though Jerusalem has hinted it could resort to pre-emptive military strikes against Iranian nuclear sites if it deems diplomacy a dead end.

Burns’ visit to Israel could be his last before he retires in March.

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